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Could Technology Have Stopped the Terrorists?

Boot Camp feature for Monday, September 17, 2001

Could technology have prevented the terrorist attacks? Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. A company called Viisage Technology generated controversy at the Super Bowl in Tampa last January, when its facial recognition system was used by law enforcement. Cameras scanned faces in the crowd and using an algorithm developed at the MIT Media Lab matched characteristics against a criminal database. There was an outcry from some concerned about civil liberties... and CEO Tom Colatosti tells us the company backed away from aggressively marketing the system to airports in the United States...

"We got ourselves a little defensive with regard to using that technology and as we look at it now, I think any reasonable person would conclude that there's no invasion of privacy."

And he is convinced, if face recognition systems had been deployed... there is a chance the hijackers who attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon could have been stopped in time...

"Given all the new security features they're talking about... . like no more curb side check in ... all of those kinds of things would not have stopped these hijackers. It's clear that facial recognition technology, of every single device, security device that's currently deployed or being thought about being deployed, facial recognition had the most probability of having a significant difference."

Colatosti says it is being tested at two airports in Europe, but not yet in the United States. He expects that will change in the near future. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.